Last week I gave you this bony mystery object to identify:
There was a request for a side view from jennifermacaire, so here you go:
The suggestions were all suitably cryptic, with some nice puns thrown in for good measure, but the gist of all of them was clear that this is the sternum of a bird. After that point, the suggestions started getting a bit more varied, including reference to marine birds.
Responses on Twitter were a bit more varied, ranging from ‘part of a human face’ to an essentially correct answer (admittedly after a bit of Q&A).
If you’re a regular reader you may recall that I featured a sternum a few months ago from the Grant Museum of Zoology, that had a disappointing answer, but nonetheless an answer that provided a number of sternum images that may have helped with this object.
In particular this specimen may have helped:
The long lateral trabeculae (the mystery specimen is upside down, so they’re the side bits that point upward on either side) with a deep gap between them and the carina (the central keel area) is very distinctive to the Galliformes, as you can see in this Chicken sternum.
Sadly, there is no comprehensive repository of sternum images available online (if I’m wrong please correct me!), so expecting a species identification on this one was a big ask. Instead I’ll just tell you that it’s from a Hazel Grouse Tetrastes bonansia (Linnaeus, 1758) and this one was collected in Russia and accessioned by the Dead Zoo in 1929.
These secretive birds occur across Eurasia, from Japan to as far west as eastern parts of France. They live in coniferous forests and feed on plants and insects, like most of their pleasantly pheasanty family.